Russia’s National Security Council may soon discuss concrete proposals to boost economic and political ties with Abkhazia, following Moscow’s decision to lift sanctions from the breakaway region, the Russian daily Kommersant reported on April 7.
Set of proposals include, according to the Kommersant, cooperation in banking sector, involving providing soft loans to the Abkhaz central bank with 5% interest rate; removing double taxation and integration of Abkhazia into Russia’s customs system; international maritime links with ports in Sokhumi, Ochamchire and Bichvinta (Pitsunda), as well as operation of an airport in Sokhumi.
The Abkhaz side also offers, according to the daily, to make Russian passport holders residing in the breakaway region allegeable for Russia’s social assistance programs, including pensions. “Establishment of a diplomatic mission of the Russian Federation in Abkhazia can become a culmination [of the process],” the Kommersant reported.
President Putin told the secessionist Abkhaz and South Ossetian leaders last week in a written message that Russia would boost cooperation with the two regions. “The president of the Russian Federation stressed that Russia is far from being indifferent towards the concerns and problems of the populations of these two republics, towards Russian citizens living there. Therefore, support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia will further acquire not a declarative, but a practical character,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on April 3.
President Saakashvili said in a response that this move by President Putin “was unthought and absolutely unacceptable and dangerous – first and foremost for Russia itself – step by the Russian President.”